What better way to celebrate the festive season than with a visit to a spectacular European Christmas market? Picture yourself relaxing with a mulled wine after a leisurely day spent browsing through beautifully handmade gifts, twinkling lights illuminating the city around you as you soak up the atmosphere.

We've handpicked a selection of our favourite Christmas markets, where you can find unique gifts and delectable treats and even explore another culture. From the mouth-watering delights of Lille to the entertaining spectacles of Prague, we unwrap the finest Christmas markets in Europe.

Vienna, Austria
Austrian Christmas market

When it comes to Vienna, you’re truly spoilt for choice. One of the most famous Christmas markets in Austria is located in the City Hall Square, with over 150 stalls filling the cobbled streets of the Rathausplatz. Snack on roasted chestnuts or fresh gingerbread as you browse through premium leather goods, hand-blown glass and stylish ceramics. Time for a break? Warm up over a glass of Weihnachtspunsch, a traditional spiced Christmas punch made from wine, brandy or schnapps, and sweetened with fruit juice.


When? Mid-Nov – Dec 31st 2017

Lille, France
French Christmas market with trees

For foodies looking to indulge in gourmet cuisine, the Christmas market in Lille is a dream destination. Think spiced Pommes d'amour, homemade nougat and aromatic vin chaud to cancel out the chill. The market also plays host to a selection of nativity figurines and handmade Christmas decorations. If you’re looking for something extra-special that you won’t find in a stall, explore the surrounding upmarket boutiques. And thanks to the Eurostar, you can arrive just in time for lunch, with journeys from London taking as little as 80 minutes.


When? From the 17th of November to the 27th of December 2017

Hamburg, Germany
German Christmas market with nut cracker ornaments

Hamburg offers a quintessential German Christmas market experience that is sure to delight with its homely charm. With more than 15 markets specialising in old-fashioned fare, there is plenty to do for all the family. Little ones can look forward to visiting the ‘Toy Street’ filled with exciting playthings from all over the world, while grown-ups can browse through sweet treats, quirky clothing and one-of-a-kind decorations. Before sampling the local delicacies, why not whet your appetite with a glass of delicious local glühwein, the Bavarian answer to mulled wine?


When? From November the 27th to December 23rd 2017

Prague, Czech Republic
Czech Christmas market birds eye view

Prague evolves into a festive fairytale over the Christmas holidays, with plenty of activities to make you feel merry. Glowing with lights and brimming with cheer, the city stages daily live performances by folk bands as well as an enchanting nativity scene. In the evening, you can visit the giant Christmas tree spectacularly festooned with thousands of decorations, or head to one of the city’s many churches to watch a local choir perform heart-warming renditions of classic carols. Food fans can look forward to experiencing delicacies such as Klobasa, the Polish sausage, and flaky sugar-coated pastries.


When? From the 2 December 2017 to the 6th of January 2018

United Kingdom
UK Birmingham Christmas market food van

If you're looking to experience a few festive outings without leaving the United Kingdom, we highly recommend a visit to one of the Christmas markets below.

Birmingham

It's been said that the Birmingham Christmas market makes you feel as though you’ve been transported to Frankfurt, as it brings every aspect of the famous German Christmas market to life. It's one of the largest spectacles of its kind outside of Germany, and offers authentic Bavarian cuisine such as Weissbier, Bratwurst and gingerbread. Little ones can enjoy an old-fashioned carousel, and a yuletide line-up programme offers a break from shopping to relax and have a sing-along with your loved ones.


When? From the 16th of November to the 24th of December 2017

UK London Christmas market stalls

London

London's Christmas market shopping season officially opens in November when Regent Street ceremonially switches on its Christmas lights for the annual pedestrian parade. It’s hard to resist singing along to Christmas carols at the Royal Albert Hall, a moving experience made all the better in the company of family and friends. Those in search of a little more action can visit London’s largest outdoor skating rink or dare to try the toboggan slide and Ferris wheel at Hyde Park.


When? From 17th November until the 1st January 2018

UK Manchester Christmas market crafts

Manchester

Manchester's award-winning selection of stalls holds the reputation for being the original and best Christmas market in the country, so naturally it made our list as a must-visit destination for shopping. With nearly 350 beautifully decorated stalls offering handcrafted leather goods, jewellery, crafts and toys, it truly is a crown jewel of this buzzing city. And a lip-smacking array of international cuisine offers everything from hog-roast to paella, all washed down with a glass of fragrant mulled wine.


When? From the 10th of November to the 21st of December 2017